Epsom, NH – April 24, 1944

Epsom, New Hampshire – April 24, 1944

    

B-24 Liberator  U.S. Air Force Photo

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of April 24, 1944, a B-24 bomber, (42-5111), with ten crewmen aboard, left Grenier Air Field in Manchester, New Hampshire, bound for overseas duty in Europe.  The weather that day was poor, with only a 1,300 foot cloud ceiling.  Less than ten minutes after take off, the aircraft crashed into the top of  a 1,400 ft. mountain in the town of Epsom, New Hampshire.  All aboard were killed.    

     The Portsmouth Herald news articles of the crash published in 1944 identified the crash site as being on Washtub Mountain. However, one modern source  identifies the mountain as Nats Mountain. 

     One witness to the accident was identified in the Portsmouth Herald as 25-year-old Joseph Bozek of Mountain Road, who ran out of his house after hearing the bomber pass very low overhead. He later told a reporter, “I thought the plane was going to crash into the barn, and then it when it cleared the roof I though the pilot intended to make an emergency landing in the field.  When I saw the plane rise I thought to myself that the crew would have to gain much more elevation than they had in order to clear the mountain.  A few seconds later I heard a terrible explosion”

     Bozek ran up the mountain to see if he could help, but when he reached the crash site he saw there was nothing he could do.       

      The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) 2nd Lt. Marvin M. Rupp, 26, of Winfield, Kansas.  He’s buried in Highland Cemetery in Winfield.  (For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com Memorial #58978546.)  He was survived by his wife Maxine.

     (Co-pilot) 2nd Lt. James H. Jones, 21, of Alumbank, Pennsylvania.  He’s buried in Ligonier Valley Cemetery.  (For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com Memorial #24357871) He was survived by his wife Virginia A.

     (Navigator) 2nd Lt. Ardeth K. Gannon, 26, of Rockwell City, Iowa.

     (Bombardier) 2nd Lt. William G. Hunold, 22, of 404 Sterling Place, Brooklyn, New York.

     (Radio Operator) Staff Sgt. Anthony L. Ferrone, 27, of New York, N.Y.

     (Flight Engineer) Staff Sgt. Marion L. Wolfgang, 23.  He’s buried in Seaman Cemetery in Casnovia, Michigan.  (For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com  Memorial #45592673) 

     (Gunner) Sgt. John L. Eddins, 26, of Kingsville, Texas.  He’s buried in Chamberlain Cemetery in Kingsville.  (For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com  Memorial #62693878) 

     (Radio Operator) Sgt. Joseph H. Negele, 23, of Newark, Ohio.  He’s buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Newark.  (For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com  Memorial #61446219) 

     (Gunner) Sgt. Lloyd E. Utley, 25, of Mt. Vernon, Indiana.  

     (Flight Engineer) Sgt. Francis M. Weaver, 36, of Bryan, Texas.  He died just four days after his 36th birthday. He’s buried in Bryan City Cemetery, in Bryan, TX.  (For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com  Memorial #90458409)  He was survived by his wife Hattie N. Weaver.    

     Sources:

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian and Archeologist 

     Portsmouth Herald, “Nine Bodies Found After Army plane Falls On Mountain”, April 25, 1944, pg. 1

     Portsmouth Herald, “Mass Funeral In Manchester For 10 Fliers”, April 26, 1944, Pg. 1

     Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States 1941-1945, By Anthony J. Mireles, McFarland & Co. Publishers, 2006 

     Manchester New Hampshire Airport (Grenier Army Air Field) In WWII, by Tom Hildreth

     Concord Monitor, “Ray Duckler: Looking For A Piece Of History”, May 12, 2014

     Town of Epsom, New Hampshire, death records.

     Associated Press, (Unknown Paper) “Nine Bodies Are Found In Wrecked Army Plane”, date unknown.  Specifically mentions the pilot (Lt. Rupp) as being one of the nine.  No other names mentioned.  Posted on Findagrave.com, Memorial #58978546.

     www.findagrave.com

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